Jamie over­comes men­tal ill­ness to win In­vic­tus gold

Medal­list in­spires kids with story

Tweed Daily News - - BIG READ - Ais­ling Bren­nan ais­ling.bren­nan@tweed­dai­lynews.com.au

WITH his ser­vice dog Tinker­bell by his side, Jamie Tan­ner can ac­com­plish any­thing – even win­ning gold at the 2018 Syd­ney In­vic­tus Games.

After re­tir­ing from the army in 2010 fol­low­ing 11 years serv­ing in the in­fantry, Mr Tan­ner has faced his own bat­tles try­ing to over­come men­tal health prob­lems.

The Bal­lina lo­cal vis­ited Tweed Val­ley Ad­ven­tist Col­lege, where his sis­ter Cathy Shep­herd teaches, to speak with the chil­dren ahead of Re­mem­brance Day about his ex­pe­ri­ence in the army and win­ning gold for Aus­tralia in wheel­chair rugby at the In­vic­tus Games.

Deal­ing with post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der, Mr Tan­ner said he was proud of his achieve­ments at the games.

“This year was my third year I was (com­pet­ing at In­vic­tus),” Mr Tan­ner told Tweed Daily News.

“My first year was in 2016 in Or­lando, then 2017 in Toronto. I was asked in 2014 to go to Lon­don but I couldn’t do it be­cause I couldn’t leave the house or do any­thing be­cause of my men­tal health.

“Once the guys had come back from Lon­don and ex­plained how it had helped them I de­cided to get off the couch and use it as my mo­ti­va­tion to start my re­cov­ery. It was the best thing I ever did.”

Mr Tan­ner shared sto­ries of his tri­umphs with the school­child­ren, but it’s his abil­ity to turn his life around when he hit rock bot­tom that is the real tes­ta­ment to his char­ac­ter.

“Do­ing In­vic­tus the first time was huge, it got me out of my com­fort zone, it got me play­ing sport again, it got me into a com­pet­i­tive mind­set and got me out of so­cial iso­la­tion,” he said.

“It gave me my con­fi­dence back. I was lucky be­cause my part­ner sup­ported me but it sort of got to the point where I needed to do some­thing. She was a big driv­ing force to make me re­alise that I needed help be­cause, like most peo­ple with men­tal health in­juries, we don’t think there’s any­thing wrong with us. We think it’s the rest of the world that’s got prob­lems, so to have that sup­port was the driv­ing force.”

While he had no plans to re­turn to the In­vic­tus Games, Mr Tan­ner said he would for­ever trea­sure the lessons he learnt through his ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I think for me I’ve got out of In­vic­tus what it’s de­signed for,” he said.

“Syd­ney was about ce­ment­ing that jour­ney for me. After Or­lando, I re­ally crashed and went down­hill.

“In Toronto I fared up not too bad, so after Syd­ney I wanted to end on a high note.

“I’ve learnt from Or­lando and Toronto what I needed to do after In­vic­tus so for me it was about ce­ment­ing what I’d done.”


CHAM­PION IN­SPIRES: In­vic­tus gold medal­list Jamie Tan­ner and Tinker­bell meet Tweed Val­ley Ad­ven­tist Col­lege’s (from right) Mia Shep­herd, Kirby Land, Me­gan South­ern and Dy­lan Kelly ahead of Re­mem­brance Day.

Jamie Tan­ner with the gold medal he won in wheel­chair rugby at this year’s In­vic­tus Games in Syd­ney.

Jamie Tan­ner’s ser­vice dog, Tinker­bell, has helped him get through the tough times.

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